Bottom up social disruption for accessibilty & inclusion!


No doubt about it. The way to disrupt the status quo and change how our world works is through bottom up, or otherwise known as grass roots action.

The point was made by Luke Anderson, founder of StopGap Foundation, in Toronto. During a recent visit I caught up with him to discuss how Toronto fares in the access & inclusion stakes.

Truth is, even in a modern city like Toronto, areas like the basic building codes do the minimum when it comes to fostering a more inclusive approach to design, engineering and construction. This poses a big problem to wheelchair users like Luke looking to live independently.

So. It is up to disputers like Luke bent on shaking things up in their home cities to take action themselves, without waiting for change to happen at an official level. They started by going around the city making ramps for owners of establishments that weren't accessible, but wanted to be. This lead to a very significant partnership that would help StopGap really make an impact.

The Daniels Corporation, a building firm in Canada reached out to Luke about 7 years ago to understand how they were doing when it came to constructing buildings that were accessible. Today, they're in regular consultation with Luke and are one of StopGap's biggest supporters, and now they go much farther than merely abiding by the basic building codes.

Accross the pond in Dublin, Hack Access Dublin is looking to facilitate such partnerships between our startups who're looking to help make the city more inclusive to people with disabilities.

Our new partnership with Dublin City Council is a sparkling glimmer of hope that in the coming years we'll see many partnerships between public and private sector organizations who play a role in how our built environment is designed and built; making Dublin a city that is inclusive to people of all abilities and rich in diversity. We are excited to see what happens!

We want to be a shining light to other cities around the world faced with the same challenge we're faced with: An aging population, growing numbers of people suffering impairments that our environment is not geared up to cater for and mounting pressure from the World Bank and World Health Organization to fix this problem so that our world may become a much more equitable place. With all kinds of people afforded all kinds of life enriching opportunities.

We believe that the various glimmers of hope appearing around the world - like the relationship between StopGap and The Daniels Corporation - will become blinding lights to any public or private organization designing, building, engineering anything that excludes people with disabilities from engaging in society; making it impossible to ignore this issue anymore!

This is our hope. We will be working tirelessly with our partners Dublin City Council and Smart Dublin to make this happen.

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Janice Valentine